Texas Law on DWI with a Child Passenger

When a person is arrested for Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) with a child in the car who is 14 years old or younger, Texas law allows them to be charged with a felony. This DWI arrest is a felony even if the driver has never been arrested before for any charge.

The determination of whether the driver is intoxicated are the same legal standards applied in a regular DWI arrest. In Harris county and Houston, Texas, almost every charge filed under this law will involve a breath test or a blood test. The arrested driver will usually be given an option to voluntarily submit a breath specimen at the officer’s request. If the driver refuses to give a breath test, the officer will generally then apply for a warrant from a judge to obtain a blood specimen without the driver’s consent.

Prior to the recent United States Supreme Court decision in Missouri v. McNeely (2013), officers in Texas could forcibly take a blood specimen from a DWI child passenger suspect without even getting a warrant first. The Court’s decision in McNeely clarified the law requiring warrants for searches when a person does not consent to blood being taken. For the past few years, magistrates are on duty 24/7 in Harris county, Texas to decide probable cause for blood draws in DWI arrests. Texas law allows magistrates who are not even official judges to sign search warrants in DWI cases involving refusal to give voluntary specimens.

The best DWI lawyers have been required to learn very much about search warrants and blood testing procedures since these blood tests are now so common. Drivers charged with DWI- Child Passenger are in need more than ever of a highly skilled defense lawyer who is well versed in police procedures, search and seizure law, and blood testing science. Forced blood draws are also a problem, since police officers are allowed to use restraints and force to get blood with a search warrant. People can become injured very easily when multiple police officers and needles become involved in a struggle.

The charge of DWI – Child Passenger is a State Jail Felony. The charge is punishable by up to a two year sentence in the State Jail. These sentences are typically probated when the defendant has no serious prior record. The best DWI lawyers can often get these cases reduced to misdemeanor charges even if the case cannot be dismissed completely.

Contact Jim Medley & Associates today for more information!

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Written by

Jim Medley

For more than 20 years, attorney Jim Medley has perfected his craft in the field of criminal justice. He garnered extensive knowledge during his 12 years as a police officer in Texas, and applied that knowledge during his time as a professor of criminal law and criminal justice. Mr. Medley brings a unique skill set to the table, and as a result, he would be an invaluable asset in the courtroom should you need DWI or criminal defense in Houston.

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